SPJ/LA Board of Directors Retreat Minutes
Saturday Jan. 13, 2018
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Present: Joel Bellman, Stephanie Bluestein, Linda Bowen, Tom Bray, Sarah Favot, Sandy Mazza, Kathryn Mora, Frank Mottek, Richard Saxton, Lori Streifler, Julia Wick, Natalie Windsor and David Zahniser
Bluestein called the meeting to order at 10:07 a.m.
Approval of minutes from Dec. 4 board meeting
Windsor moved to approve the minutes. Bellman seconded. Bray, Wick, Mora abstained. Approved.
President’s report – Stephanie Bluestein
Bluestein reported about the Jan. 27 reading of All the President’s Men at LA City Hall by the cast of The West Wing. This is an event planned by national that we didn’t know about. SPJ interim executive director Tara Puckey said SPJ was partnering with another group, so they didn’t have complete control over ticketing. They offered us one ticket. Bluestein is unable to attend due to another commitment, so she is opening up the opportunity to other board members. Bluestein said she will communicate our concerns to national’s Communications Committee about the lack of communication, letting us know at the last minute and offering only one ticket.
Welcoming our new board members: Tom Bray, Sandy Mazza and Julia Wick
Bluestein introduced the new members and gave them a swag bag from last year’s Excellence in Journalism conference.
Mazza, a city reporter at the Daily Breeze, said she decided to run for a seat on the board to join the wider journalism community outside the daily grind of the newsroom and work on bigger picture issues.
Bray, a senior editor at Southern California News Group, said it is a good time in his career to join the board of SPJ because he is in LA County for his job rather than Riverside County.
Wick, former editor of LAist, said she joined SPJ because working in web journalism you’re often isolated from the journalism community. Now is a scary time in LA for journalists.
Slate of associate board members – Bluestein
Associate board members for 2018 will be Linda Bowen, Kathryn Mora, Lori Streifler and Natalie Windsor.
Treasurer’s Report – Hendrickson
Bluestein reported on behalf of Hendrickson. Bluestein reported the Chapter’s beginning balance as of Dec. 1 was $30,381.13. After paying $805 for the holiday party and $925 for the elections and other transactions, the balance on the books as of Jan. 1 was $29,760.97. There is an outstanding check for $288 for SPJ dues, so the balance on our books as of Jan. 1 was $29,472.97. The Morgan Stanley account balance is $72,456.88, a gain of $84.64 from the previous month.
Bluestein noted that the fee charged by Big Pulse to conduct the online board elections was high and she reached out to the San Diego Chapter to see how much they pay and they gave us the name of their vendor who charged them approximately $100. She suggested not using Big Pulse next year.
Favot said that after Hendrickson consulted with our regional director Matt Hall, we learned that that it is not necessary to create a separate bank account for the Regional Conference, as we had discussed at December’s meeting.
Bellman moved to receive the January Treasurer’s Report. Windsor seconded. Approved.
Introductions – All Please provide a brief statement as to why you’re a part of SPJ
Bluestein thanked board members who have recently left the board due to relocation and/or work commitments: Christina Cocca, America Arias, Tammy Audi, Irene Moore, Julia Seifer and Claudia Peschiutta.
Each of the current board members gave a brief biography of their journalism career and said they continue to be part of SPJ/LA to stay connected to the wider journalism community outside of their job. Many members said they are part of SPJ to promote the core values if the First Amendment, Freedom of Information, access and transparency. Two of our board members have been recently laid off from journalism jobs.
SPJ/LA committees and general responsibilities of board members – Bluestein
2018 SPJ/LA committee assignments/responsibilities
Bluestein gave a briefing on the new committee assignments for the year. She distributed a list for board members to keep for their records. Regarding the Scholarships Committee, Bowen spoke about the struggle of getting students to apply for scholarships because any scholarship money goes against a student’s financial aid package. She suggested calling the Scholarships “awards” because students might be more willing to apply to those, or offering specific items, like Amazon gift cards. Saxton said the struggle to is to get students to apply. Bowen suggested a scholarship workshop tagging it on to a Journalism Day at a high school or college to encourage students to apply. Wax noted that some scholarships that are in people’s names and have specific criteria. Bluestein would like members of the Scholarship Committee to come back with ideas at the February meeting for changing the way we’ve done things. Mottek suggested reaching out to high schools that have a journalism focus. Bowen mentioned that Southern California Journalism Education Association has a writing contest for high school journalism students for journalism writing on Feb. 24. Bluestein will reach out to Audi, former Scholarship Committee chair, to request a memo about how the Scholarships Committee operates.
Associate board member responsibilities
Associate board members can vote when there are fewer than 15 board members present at a meeting. Bluestein encouraged associate board members to attend meetings as sometimes we do not have a quorum and therefore can’t vote on official business.
Update on Regional Conference – Favot and Bluestein
Bluestein distributed a copy of a flyer for the Regional Conference designed by Michael Wax for a $100 fee. The flyer will be distributed to potential sponsors as well as posted on social media to promote the conference. Bluestein also briefed the board on the proposed schedule for the conference at the Universal City Hilton. The conference will kick off with a Friday night reception headlined by former AP courts reporter Linda Deutsch. On Saturday morning, USC professor Robert Hernandez will start the day with a speech on the future of journalism. We will offer three panels/workshops to choose from for each of the three sessions throughout the day. The luncheon will be a separate ticket for the Mark of Excellence awards for student journalists. The day will end with a closing speech. We haven’t determined the cost of the conference because we need to secure sponsorships before we can calculate the price. Favot ran through the panelists who we have secured. Favot and Bluestein asked board members to come up with ideas for a closing speaker. Former board member Jeff Wald, in a phone conversation with Bluestein in December, suggested speakers for the luncheon. Board members also came up with ideas.
Lunch break (11:45 – 12:15)The board recessed for lunch at 12:08 p.m. Bluestein called the meeting to order at 12:52 p.m.
Brainstorm programming ideas –
SPJ/LA’s 2018 calendar
Bluestein went through the calendar. Feb. 22 is the first mixer of the new year. Considering all of the journalists in Los Angeles who’ve been laid off or could be laid off in the near future, Zahniser suggested having a panel of journalists who’ve been laid off and bounced back to careers in journalism and other fields: “Stories of Hope.” Zahniser asked for board members to email him suggestions for panelists. Zahniser will look into The Association downtown for the venue. If we can’t secure a location for a mixer, we will hold a panel. Zahniser sought ideas for an FOI event this year. Mottek mentioned he is organizing State of the News Business with RTNA and maybe SPJLA could collaborate with them. Bluestein said she plans to attend the Excellence in Journalism conference in Baltimore on Sept. 27-29. Zahniser suggested having an election-related event in October ahead of the November general election. Bluestein wants to hold a Google News Lab event, likely on a Saturday at CSUN.
Other business: Insurance – Bluestein and Nonahal
Bluestein reported that she and Nonahal are still working on securing this insurance. They plan to bring a proposal to the February board meeting. Zahniser requested that Bluestein email information about the proposal in advance of the meeting so board members can be prepared.
Banquet update – Walton
Wax reported that we have three RSVPs so far for the March 1 banquet. Wax encouraged members to start getting people to RSVP by sharing on their professional and personal social media accounts. For those who can’t attend, they can buy a ticket for a student to attend or make a donation to the scholarship fund and/or SPJ/LA.
Mottek reported 40 people attended and yielded four new Chapter members. Mottek thanked the board for their support.
Board member replacement – Bluestein
Bluestein reported America Arias is leaving L.A. for a new position. Arais suggested a replacement, who Bluestein has contacted and is waiting for a response. The new board member would chair the Diversity Committee. The board will need to vote on her appointment at the February meeting.
Next board meeting: Feb. 5 at Louise’s, 7 p.m.
Favot moved to adjourn at 2:13 p.m. Windsor seconded. Approved.
Respectfully submitted, Sarah Favot